The following contains major spoilers for The Protege.
This weekend sees the release of The Protégé, a brand new action movie starring Maggie Q as a professional killer. She and her partner/father figure, played by Samuel L. Jackson, take down bad guys for money, but when one of those bad guys comes after them, Maggie Q's Anna goes on a quest to hunt them and take them down. While it feels like we rarely see new action movies anymore, there was once a time when John Wick was a brand new idea, and that movie has now spawned several sequels, with at least a couple more to come. So is The Protégé the first movie in an ongoing franchise? There are many factors that will help determine that, but one of them, of course, is The Protégé ending. Will Maggie Q, Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Keaton all be back for countless sequels?
Well, whether or not The Protégé gets sequels will be determined by box office receipts more than anything. But if it does happen, who might appear in them will likely have more to do with how this movie actually ends, so let's dive into the ending of The Protégé and talk about what happens and what it could mean for the future of this potential franchise.
How The Protégé Ends
The Protégé follows contract killer Anna as she returns to her native Vietnam in an attempt to track down the person who killed her surrogate father Moody. However, while there she discovers that Moody actually isn't dead. He survived the attempt on his life and faked his death. Anna has discovered who tried to kill him, a man named Edward Hayes who 30 years previously had actually hired Moody to kill him, so that he could actually fake his own death. Together Anna and Moody put a plan in motion to take Hayes down.
Anna acts as a diversion to keep Michael Keaton's Rembrandt away from his boss. Moody instead confronts Hayes inside his fortified bunker and then, likely because Moody is clearly unwell and may be dying, blows both of them up from inside. Anna is seriously injured in the battle with Rembrandt, but is able to escape following the confusion of the explosion.
Anna makes her way, to an abandoned building the same one where Moody found her as a child, surrounded by several dead bodies. Here we're finally shown what happened to Anna as a child. She witnessed the death of her entire family firsthand and was taken prisoner by those that committed the violent act. But when she found an opportunity, she coldly shot all of them to death, which is when she was found by Moody.
At this point, Rembrandt appears as he has tracked Anna to the building. The two stare each other down at gunpoint. Anna says she can't leave Rembrandt alive. Even though the two have a personal relationship, she knows that she'll always be looking over her shoulder if he lives. He's the only person alive who knows what she's done. Rembrandt tries to talk her down, to convince her she could just walk away, but he also never lowers his gun.
The audience POV shifts to outside the building and we see a flash and hear a gunshot. We see a single shadow move down the hall and a moment later Anna emerges from the building, alone.
Could We Get A Sequel To The Protégé?
Certainly, the one thing we know for sure is that Maggie Q's Anna survived The Protégé, and there's no reason to believe that she's going to leave her current life behind. There's plenty of opportunity to tell more stories with this character if the audience is there for it.
The potentially more interesting question is what may have happened to Rembrandt, and how that could factor in to any potential sequel. We know that there was a gunshot, and that Anna walked away, but the fate of Michael Keaton's character is left a lot more vague, almost certainly by design. The implication is that she killed him, but we never see a body so the possibility that he could have survived exists.
Perhaps they both fired their guns, and both missed intentionally. The two were building a personal relationship, even ending a fight scene to have sex, so it's possible that each cares for the other enough that they didn't want to kill each other. Alternatively, it's possible that Anna did shoot Rembrandt, but that she did so non-fatally, allowing her to get away, but leaving him alive.
What Future Sequels Might Look Like
The ambiguous fate is certainly intentional. If a sequel were to happen it could either include Michael Keaton or not, depending on whether or not he was willing to return and depending on just what sort of story was put together for the follow up. Because Anna and Rembrandt were on opposite sides here, but also have a blooming relationship, if the two were to cross paths again in a future movie, things could go anywhere. They could end up working together in a sequel, the two clearly are in similar lines of work. Alternatively, a sequel could see Anna's fear come to pass, and the one loose end she left untied coming back to try and take her down.
While the ending of The Protégé is certainly ambiguous, it's not exactly a cliffhanger. There's nothing left unresolved by the end that a sequel would need to clear up. Whether or not Rembrandt is alive, and what Anna does after she walks away, isn't important to this particular story. Still, We don't get a lot of action heroes that look like Maggie Q, and that alone would be reason enough to want to see more from this series. And there will certainly be fans who do want to see what really happened in those final moments.
When it comes to 2021 movies, the old way of determining success and franchise potential doesn't necessarily work anymore. Whether that's good or bad news for this particular project, and any potential sequels, remains to be seen.
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